Dragon Skulls, Fairies, and Trolls at Wira Bruk’s Christmas Market

Dragon Skulls, Fairies, and Trolls at Wira Bruk’s Christmas Market

Wira Bruk is an old iron works village that was active back in the heyday of Sweden's superpower era when they were cranking out weaponry as fast as they could. It's the site where the King's weapons (read: swords) and townspeople received tax credits for supplying Sweden with iron goods. Visiting Wira Bruk is like taking a stroll back in time and it is well worth a gander. But let's talk about their Christmas market, shall we? Wira Bruk has hosted a julmarknad (Christmas market) for the past three years during the first advent weekend. Be ready to be shocked by sights not usually seen at other Christmas markets. Have you ever seen a dragon's skull (that's surprisingly small)? A fairy skeleton (that's surprisingly big)? Or how about a 7" tall stone troll (that's surprisingly realistic)? No? Then get yourself over to Roslagen's Wira Bruk because they have them all on display. Part of me wondered if these installations were left up from Halloween but the...
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My Review of Steninge Slott’s Christmas Market

My Review of Steninge Slott’s Christmas Market

Steninge Slott's Julmarknad is always a fun trip out to Sigtuna, Sweden.The Christmas market is housed in the stone barn behind the 17th Century palace and the interior is stunning.The vaulted ceilings of the barn give it an airy atmosphere and illuminated advent stars hang from the ceiling begging to go home with you.Our favorite purchases usually involve buying a paper sack of candied almonds and some warm glögg while we walk around the property among the tree-lined pathways.However, Steninge Slott's rustic charm is undergoing a bit of a renovation and the grounds are currently under construction with new housing development on the property.No longer do you feel like you are on a large estate property but now you feel a bit like you're intruding on people's backyard.Another change from years past is that Steninge Slott now sells furniture and home decorations year round. The inventory for this new business has pushed the crafts and local vendors who participate in...
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Visiting the Christmas Markets in Sweden

Visiting the Christmas Markets in Sweden

It is Christmas Market (Julmarknad) season in Europe and Sweden has some of the most darling Christmas markets. Glögg (mulled wine), reindeer meat, and candles on evergreen trees are all part and parcel of a good Swedish Christmas market.Kickstarting the Christmas spirit for me entails switching over to the Christmas carols on our Spotify playlist and piling into the car to our local Christmas markets.My kids love the idea of going for a pony ride, drinking warm chocolate, and possibly participating in a fiskdam (where they "fish" for a present and the fees for "fishing" go back into the local community.)I love finding handmade goods from small businesses and local artists. I absolutely love finding small handmade gifts that are perfect for stockings or adding a little flourish to our bookshelves. If you make a cute little elf or anything featuring a long Santa beard, I will probably buy it.This December, we are heading to a different Christmas market every weekend...
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Unmedicated and Unplanned Birth Story on Motherbirth’s Podcast

Unmedicated and Unplanned Birth Story on Motherbirth’s Podcast

I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Mellisa and Laura on Motherbirth's podcast and describing my somewhat unusual birth story that other women have also experienced with Hypnobabies (aff). It is incredible to think that more and more mothers will experience pain-free/comfortable births and it would be wonderful if that could become every woman's reality. Motherbirth is a great podcast series focusing on the remarkable birth stories of women around the world so be sure to check it out. Click here to listen to the story on Motherbirth (they did a great job editing it down!) http://www.motherbirth.co/podcast/2017/6/1/episode-025-pain-free-birth And if you're interested in buying the Hypnobabies program, click below at no extra cost to you and a small percentage to me because I'm essentially a living and breathing advertisement for these folks. If I can do it, I know that you can!   Virtual Midwifery One woman who is helping expat women around the world is Karen Wilmot, The Virtual Midwife. She is offering a course that is available here:     Read...
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Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Have you ever met someone who raved about visiting a particular city and you wrinkled your nose and shook your head, "Gah, no. That was not our experience at all!" How can people have such different impressions of the same place? Maybe the weather was bad, your kids were whiny, or you were tired from traveling. Maybe you picked the wrong restaurants, got lost too many times, or felt overwhelmed by the crowds. There are tons of reasons why your first visit to a new city or town may not be favorable. Some places deserve a second glance before you write them off for good. We have a list of places we want to visit and see, so we are often too quick to write a city off once we've been there. Been there, done that, let's move on. There are too many places to see and too little time, money, and energy to see them all so why go back to a place where you...
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Family Travel Guide to Öland, Sweden

Family Travel Guide to Öland, Sweden

Ice cream, go-karts, beaches, and alpacas? Explore this tiny island to find some hidden gems off the east coast of Sweden in this family travel guide.   In European countries, it is common for the entire country to shut down in August as people head off to various resorts and tourist destinations. In Sweden, that "shut down" month is July—typically the warmest weather month of the year with maximum hours of sunlight. With four weeks of vacation, what is a family to do? Fortunately, for Swedes, there are plenty of stugor (rustic cabins) to rent, and plenty of islands to visit. One island, in particular, Öland, is located off the southeast coast of Sweden in the Kalmar region. Öland translates to "island land," which is fairly nonsensical but essentially, it's a long, narrow island.   Getting to Öland There is a bus that runs between Stockholm and Öland if you want to put someone else in charge of the driving. You can enter the island either by...
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Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

"Where's the chamber pot?" I asked my husband at 2 am. "You're kidding me," he mumbled. Wish I was, my dear, wish that I was. If you ever wanted to know what life was like before modern conveniences, then look no further than your nearest Swedish stuga. Stuga is Swedish for "cabin or cottage, " and they are generally pretty rustic—mostly because they were constructed sometime in the 1800s and electricity and running water were later additions.   Your classic Swedish stuga has low ceilings—people were shorter 100+ years ago—a wood burning stove in one or all of the corners, and if you have a fancy stuga, you'll have more than one room with big heavy wooden doors. For whatever reason, my daughter thinks opening and closing stuga doors is the funnest thing ever and it keeps her busy for at least an hour. Many of our Swedish friends have mentioned spending their Easter holidays and summer vacations "at the stuga," and we always thought...
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Celebrating A Lagom Swedish National Day

Celebrating A Lagom Swedish National Day

Blue skies, swings hanging beneath leafy trees, blooming flowers, and a bright sun with a slight breeze—the setting was perfect for a typical Swedish holiday. The temperature was lagom—not too hot, not too cold—and the sun felt just right against our sunscreened, sunglassed faces. All of the doors to the house were open allowing all seven children and the breeze to freely circulate. Adults chatted in the white sunlit spacious kitchen as they prepared the food. A Swedish pop music Spotify playlist played in the background. Outside, the grill was fired up with cheeseburgers and hot dogs sizzling.     This year, Swedish National Day had extra special meaning for us as newly minted Swedish citizens. In comparison to US citizenship, Swedish citizenship had been very easy to acquire. I'd say, given our limited time (five years isn't that long), we deserve a B-B+ in integration. There's still room for improvement, but we're doing a good job. But we know that some things we can only learn with...
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Here Come the Easter Witches

Here Come the Easter Witches

  When you think about Easter, you immediately think "witch." No? Me neither. Probably the funniest Scandinavian tradition is the Easter witch. In Sweden and Finland—young children hit the streets the Thursday before Easter dressed as peasants (or in their finest witchy costumes) that their parents bought during the post-Halloween sales the year before.   Is this like Halloween in the spring? Yes. Kids make handmade Glad Påsk cards (Happy Easter) and hand them out door to door in exchange for candy. This trick-or-treating type activity was new to me and caught me off guard when we first moved to Sweden. I heard tiny, gentle knocks on my door and not surprisingly, didn't happen to have any loose candy in the house to hand out. Having to improvise, I gave a few kronor as payment to each disappointed child. Don't be like Lisa. Be prepared and always have loose candy around your house at all times.     Last year, I swore I was going to get it right. After years of...
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Nudity in preschool? Why not?

Nudity in preschool? Why not?

The notification from my children's preschool app lit up the front screen of my phone. "You have an important message," the text said in Swedish. I logged in with my email and password and opened up the "important message" that contained photos of my five-year-old son's preschool field trip. From the photos, it looked like the kids were in someone's yard enjoying the beautiful sunny day, eating grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, and running through the sprinkler. Most notable was that the kids were running through the sprinkler completely nude or with only underwear on. I didn't even know he was heading on a field trip that day but none of that shocked me. The fact that I didn't know that my son was going on a field trip that day? Pfft, whatever. The fact that there were nude photos of my child on this preschool app shared with the other parents in his class? Not an issue. The fact that they went to a...
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